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The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Gareth D Morewood

SENCOs, make these first weeks count!

At this time of year, strategic planning for SEND provision can fall victim to in-the-moment demands. Here is my advice for a smooth start.

In these hectic few weeks, many schools will be thrown in to the usual mix of analysis and induction; the typical balance of review and preparation to start the next year. From experience, I know that SENCOs will have something ranging from plenty of time for Inset or training, to no time whatsoever.

But whatever your situation, it’s important to be clear on the underpinning aims of provision for SEND in this last year of reforms implementation.

The road ahead

We know that from 1st April, all Statements of SEN will become EHCPs. Or at least, that’s the plan.

Indeed, many local authorities are struggling with this transition but for SENCOs the immediate needs of our pupils and their families must take precedence.

Transitioning between schools, or school years, can create a lot of uncertainty for young people and their families. Our responsibility is first and foremost to build strong relationships with new pupils and their parents/carers.

After all, co-production has a strong evidence base from which we can work to achieve better outcomes.

Everyone’s business

It’s important we share a corporate responsibility for all pupils, no matter how much work this involves at the start of the year.

Whether through a regular bulletin or sessions on the first Inset day, the initial information we pass on to colleagues regarding the needs of individual pupils can make all the difference. We must be pro-active, not reactive. 

Help at hand

SENCOs are often lone rangers. Regardless of whether you are new to the role or more experienced, you shouldn’t have to feel isolated. There are colleagues across the country who have come up against many of the same challenges you will face tomorrow, next week or further down the line. 

If there’s only one important thing I’ve learned over the last 20 years, it is the importance of seeking advice sooner rather than later. Don’t reinvent the wheel!

Roles and responsibilities

It is important that teaching assistants and other support staff begin the year with a clear understanding of the responsibilities and expectations placed upon them. These include:

  • the needs of individual pupils
  • their in-class duties
  • the whole-school approach to/ethos for SEND provision.

It’s also important that teachers are clear about partnership arrangements – time invested in these at the beginning of term will pay dividends later on.

From 0 to 100 

Looking back at our summer to-do list for SENCOs, we are reminded of the importance of time for reflection. September can often be a frenzy, with everything hurtling to 100 miles per hour from a standing start. No matter how restful their summer has been, no one can go from 0 to 100 so quickly!

Try to ensure there is time to take stock and have those important conversations with your colleagues.

Don’t arrive at the October half term in a whirlwind of hand-to-mouth provision. Take the time now so you can reap the rewards later in the autumn.

Take control of your time

Don't let the hours slip through your fingers this term. Our booklet of tried and tested techniques will help you better manage your time. 

Download for free

More from Optimus

Help, I'm a new SENCO and I don't know where to start!

SEND provision: a three-stage plan for school improvement

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